Extension or conservatory? Which should I choose?
When considering a house extension or a conservatory, there are lots of things to bear in mind. The average conservatory will cost anywhere from £5,000 to upwards of £75,000 for a full extension, so there is a big difference in cost!
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- What would you like to use the additional room for?
- Which side of your house will you build on?
- Do you need planning permission?
- How much is your budget?
- Why are you extending - to expand your home, or to increase its value?
Let's take a look at the differences between an extension and a conservatory so that you can make an informed choice.
The difference between an extension and a conservatory
They may sound like the same thing, but an extension and a conservatory are not quite identical. Both are a type of extension built onto your existing home, however here is how they differ:
- Conservatories are constructed from glazed walls and roof, in a variety of styles. Often they have dwarf walls, which come to waist height, with the remainder glazed.
- Extensions can also be made with glazed walls and roofing if you choose, and may also feature dwarf walls. However, the construction sits on foundations or pillars, and so is much more durable and more robust.
What are the advantages of choosing a conservatory over an extension?
A conservatory brings natural light and space into your home and is a cost-effective way to add more capacity to your living space quickly.
Advantages of a conservatory over an extension:
- They are cheaper - simple prefabricated conservatories can start from as little as £5,000.
- The build time is much faster - a conservatory can be erected inside of a week depending on how complex the project is.
- You are less likely to need planning permission or building regulations - this depends on lots of factors like how close your conservatory will be to your neighbours, and whether you are leaving the original external doors in situ.
What are the advantages of an extension over a conservatory?
An extension is a more structurally sound build and is created with foundations that make it robust and able to withstand the elements. It is not vulnerable to damage from extreme weather or high winds in the same way as a conservatory.
Advantages of an extension over a conservatory:
- Extensions are more energy-efficient since they provide better thermal efficiency. This means your energy bills will be cheaper, and if you come to sell, you can demonstrate a higher-performing energy efficiency rating.
- Most extensions tend to replicate the build materials of the original space, so they are more attractive.
- An extension is more flexible; so you could knock through an existing room to make it larger, build any purpose of room and decide whether to build upwards to create additional first-floor space.
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Frequently asked questions
Do I need building regs for a conservatory?
Not necessarily. If your conservatory complies with the following criteria, you will probably not need building regulations approval.
However, it is always worth contacting your local planning department for confirmation before any works begin since some areas, particularly conservation areas, will have specific requirements.
- The build is on ground floor level and no more than 30m2 in total
- The original external doors, walls and windows remain in place
- You have a heating control system, with its own controls independent from the main house
- The glazing used is compliant with industry standards and regulations
Is an extension more valuable than a conservatory?
By and large, yes! An extension is a habitable space within your property, whereas a conservatory is a relaxing space but not considered suitable for living in.
This means that, when you have your home valued for sale, an extension, or a conservatory that has been converted into an extension, will add more value to your home.
Can I convert my conservatory into an extension?
Yes! If you have a conservatory and would like to upgrade it by converting into an extension, this can add value to your home and give you more options as to how you use the space.
The stumbling block to such a conversion is that most extensions can have no more than 25% glazing in comparison to the total floor space. However, when converting a conservatory to an extension, it is possible to adjust the 'floor to glass' ratio to ensure that your extension complies with building control regulations.
How much value will a conservatory add to my home?
Typically, a conservatory will add from 4% to 7% to the value of your home. There are lots of factors that will impact this, including:
- The size of your conservatory
- The quality of the build and materials
- Whether it has a building regulations certificate
How much value will an extension add to my home?
Extensions come with a considerable number of designs, sizes and specifications so that value that your build adds to your home will depend on this.
The average extension adds around 8% to the value of your home, and sometimes significantly more. Adding a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, as well as extending your ground floor living space can add 20% and higher.
How much does a conservatory cost?
The main factors when budgeting for your conservatory include the size, position and materials.
A typical conservatory can cost £15,000 to £20,000. If you choose a simple uPVC construction, this cost reduces to around £5,000-£10,000.
Large uPVC conservatories or more substantial constructions made from hardwood will be towards the upper end of the scale.
What can I use a conservatory for?
Conservatories are simple, cost-effective solutions to adding more space to your home. While they are not suitable for bedrooms, they can be used for:
- Reading rooms or sunrooms
- An occasional room or seating area
- Dining space
- A home office
Remember that you need to decide what to use your extension for before the build begins - for example, a home office may not be suitable if your conservatory is not well insulated or built with thermal materials. You might need extra power points, and need to think about any utilities that need to be factored into the design.
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